Bobo Newsom Essentials

Bats: R Throws: R
Height: 75 Weight: 200
Born: Sunday, August 11, 1907 in Hartsville, SC USA
Died: 12 7 1962 in Orlando, FL USA
Debut: 9/11/1929
Last Game: 9/17/1953
Full Name: Louis Norman Newsom

In 1938, Bobo Newsom won 20 games while toiling for the lowly St. Louis Browns, who went 55-97 that year. Making the feat all the more unlikely was Newsom’s astronomical 5.08 earned run average, the highest in history by a 20-game winner. All told, the big righty went 20-16 with 226 Ks and paced the American League in innings (329 ⅔), complete games (31), and home runs allowed (30). Newsom’s performance didn’t go unnoticed – he finished fifth in MVP balloting.

Such odd stat lines were commonplace during the hitter-happy 1930s. Ray Kremer, who led the National League in wins (20) and ERA (2.67) in 1926, once again paced the circuit with 20 victories in 1930, albeit with a 5.02 ERA. In 1937, Tigers right-hander Roxie Lawson went 18-7 despite a sky-high 5.26 ERA; his .720 winning percentage is the best single-season mark by a hurler with an ERA over five.

Getting back to Newsom, he followed the 1938 season with another 20-win campaign, though this time posted a respectable 3.58 ERA. Bobo’s most impressive season came with the 1940 Detroit Tigers; he went 21-5 with a 2.83 ERA and topped it off by going 2-1 with 17 Ks and a 1.38 ERA in the World Series.

Noted for his durability, Newsom pitched for nine teams over parts of 20 big-league seasons, routinely ranking among the circuit leaders in innings pitched, complete games, and shutouts. He won 10 or more games 14 times, finished among his league’s top three in strikeouts nine times and, most dubiously, posted ERAs of 4.00-plus on 11 occasions. (Newsom’s career spanned from 1929 to 1953, making him one of 11 pitchers to play in four decades.)

Though the peripatetic hurler led the American League in losses four times, it wasn’t always his fault. Pitching for the Philadelphia A’s in 1945, “Buck” compiled a 3.29 ERA – 69 points lower than his career average (3.98) – in 257 ⅓ innings, yet finished the year with a dismal 8-20 record. For his career, Newsom won 211 games and lost 222 others, making him the only man besides Jack Powell (245-254) to compile 200 wins while posting an overall losing record. — BK2

◾Sources: Nemec, David, and Pete Palmer. “1001 Fascinating Baseball Facts.” Stamford, CT: Longmeadow, 1994. + + +